Approximately 102 million Americans have high cholesterol levels of 200 mg/dL and higher, with 35 million of this group having very high cholesterol levels of 240 mg/dL and more. It’s no surprise that statins prescribed to lower cholesterol are among the most commonly prescribed medications in the US.
While medication can and does lower cholesterol, the interest in naturally lowering cholesterol without medication is growing. Thankfully there are natural healthy drinks that may help lower cholesterol.
Some natural healthy drinks to include in your diet are some specific teas, a couple of fruit juices, and much fiber. There are many other drinks and activities to do besides this, of course. A healthy diet and an active lifestyle are an essential part of it.
In this article, we talk about six healthy drinks to add to your diet. We’ll also give you the details on what drinks to avoid and additional methods for reducing cholesterol.
- What is Cholesterol?
- Not all Cholesterols are Bad
- Natural Drinks To Lower Cholesterol Levels
- Does Alcohol Help Lower Cholesterol?
- Does Drinking Water Lower Cholesterol ?
- Other Natural Ways To Lower Cholesterol
- What About Drinks To Avoid?
- The Bottom Line
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a kind of fat in the blood. Our bodies produce cholesterol in the liver, but it can also be found in meat, dairy products, and fast food. Fruit, vegetables, and oats are naturally free from any cholesterol.
High cholesterol becomes a health issue when it binds with other products in the blood and turns into plaque. Plaque can build up and cause a blockage in arteries and result in heart attacks, heart disease, and strokes.
Not all Cholesterols are Bad
A common misconception about cholesterol is that all cholesterol is bad. That’s simply not true.
High-density lipoprotein cholesterol, also known as HDL, is considered good cholesterol. HDL helps combat bad cholesterol by removing it from the blood and preventing build-up in your arteries by taking it to the liver to be broken down. HDL is found in foods high in heart-healthy fats, such as avocado, olive oil, and fatty fish. Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, more commonly referred to as LDL, is the bad cholesterol and the one to keep an eye on. This cholesterol is the kind that increases the risk of heart disease and often results in a build-up of plaque.
When talking about lowering cholesterol, people are generally referring to lowering their level of LDL cholesterol. Although rare, low HDL cholesterol levels below 40 milligrams per deciliter of blood can have adverse side effects, causing anxiety, depression, and cancer.
Ideal cholesterol levels are less than 100mg LDL cholesterol per deciliter of blood and 50 mg or more HLD per dL. The total amount of cholesterol in the blood should be less than 200 mg per dL.
People with high cholesterol are often put on medication. However, there are natural ways to lower cholesterol, such as trying some natural healthy drinks alongside adopting a generally healthier diet and lifestyle.
Natural Drinks To Lower Cholesterol Levels
People with high cholesterol are often put on medication. But there are natural ways to lower cholesterol as well. You can try these natural healthy drinks and adopt a healthy diet and lifestyle to boost their effects.
1. Ginger Tea
Studies have shown that ginger can lower lipid levels in the blood, which reduces LDL cholesterol levels while improving the amount of HDL cholesterol in the blood. Ginger can also improve insulin sensitivity which is good news for people with diabetes. They have an increased risk of heart attacks, heart disease, and strokes.
Ginger root can be grated down into tiny pieces, or you can simply purchase ginger powder to add to tea. Ginger tea can be enjoyed on its own, but you’re not a fan of the flavor, you can add it to a chai blend or even a chai latte. Alternatively, you can skip the tea and add a dash of ginger to a smoothie.
2. Cranberry Juice
Although cranberry juice is often associated with treating urinary tract infections, it can also be good for heart health.
Participants in one study were given one glass of cranberry juice per day for one month. It then increased to two for the next month and finally to three glasses of cranberry juice per day for the third month. Before beginning the study, the participants had high cholesterol and were not taking any medication to lower their cholesterol.
The results showed that while the overall levels of cholesterol of the 19 participants had not changed, their HDL cholesterol levels improved significantly, while LDL decreased. The conclusion was that two servings of cranberry juice containing at least 27% pure cranberry juice could help decrease the risk of heart disease.
3. Tart Cherry Juice
A study conducted by the University of Delaware found that Montmorency tart cherry juice lowered systolic blood pressure and LDL cholesterol in older adults.
Over 12 weeks, participants who drank two cups of tart cherry juice a day had lower cholesterol levels overall. However, they had high blood sugar levels and triglycerides compared to the placebo group, who drank a cherry-flavored drink. Despite the increases in blood sugar, they did not experience insulin sensitivity associated with diabetes. HDL cholesterol levels and diastolic blood pressure were not affected by the cherry juice consumption during the study.
A slight reduction of even 2 mmHg reduction in systolic blood pressure can reduce the risk of death by a stroke or heart disease. So the 4.1 mmHg drop in systolic blood pressure in the participants is promising.
Green tea is known as one of the healthiest drinks in the world for many reasons. It’s rich in antioxidants, boosts the metabolism, and has less caffeine than coffee, consequently making green tea is another natural drink to lower cholesterol.
In a meta-analysis of 14 randomized studies with combined participation of over 1000+ people, participants who drank at least 2 cups of green tea a day during a ten-year period showed a significantly lowered LDL cholesterol when compared with the control group. This result is attributed to the high amount of catechins in the tea.
Additionally, quite a few animal studies have also suggested that green tea can inhibit the absorption of cholesterol which, as a result, helps keep levels low.
5. Soy Milk
Soy products such as soy milk and tofu can reduce levels of cholesterol. Soy is naturally free from cholesterol compared to one cup of 1% milk, which contains 12.2 grams of cholesterol.
The Journal of Nutrition reported that eating 25 grams of soy protein per day over 6-weeks lowered LDL cholesterol by 3-4%. Although this is not a drastic drop, a small change is a good start. It could lead to a more significant difference when combined with other dietary shifts.
Most soy is genetically modified in some way, so if you want this to be a natural drink to lower cholesterol, then opt for organic soy milk. 25 grams of soy milk is around three and a half cups per day. A soy ginger-chai latte can be a yummy way to combine two of these natural drinks to lower cholesterol.
6. Fiber-Rich Smoothies
Soluble fiber can reduce LDL levels of cholesterol by reducing its absorption into the bloodstream.
This type of fiber is found in oats, seeds, some fruit, and lentils and is broken down by the body into a gel. It gets its name from the fact that it dissolves in water.
On the other hand, insoluble fiber is found in brown rice, couscous, and whole-wheat bread. doesn’t reduce cholesterol like soluble fiber. Although it can help maintain blood sugar levels and good bowel health.
Fiber also has other health benefits, such as maintaining good digestive health. But all you need to decrease LDL cholesterol is 5-10 grams of soluble fiber a day. Oats, apples, strawberries, and seeds such as flax seeds and chia seeds are good sources of soluble fiber.
Although blending can strip some of the fiber from fruit and veg, adding oat flour, milled flax seeds, or a scoop of chia seeds can help bulk up the fiber content of a smoothie.
Does Alcohol Help Lower Cholesterol?
Yes, numerous studies have shown that drinking alcohol in moderation can help increase your good cholesterol levels or HDL levels, thereby lowering the risk of heart disease, blood clots, and increasing life expectancy. Wine is your best option for alcohol because of its high antioxidant properties.
The downside is that drinking too much could actually increase cholesterol. What’s more, too much alcohol consumption is tied to so much more diseases. In this case, the risks outweigh the benefits.
To safely consume alcohol to lower cholesterol, drink only one glass per day for women and two glasses a day for men.
Does Drinking Water Lower Cholesterol ?
Staying hydrated is one of the key things to keep the body functioning properly as studies have shown that dehydration can cause several adverse effects on cholesterol levels.
Not getting enough water can make the blood more acidic, resulting in LDL cholesterol build-up and cell wall damage. Being dehydrated can make your body produce more LDL to ensure cell membranes are moist.
On the other hand, drinking lots of water can help with digestion. It also thins the blood and helps your metabolic rate.
Other Natural Ways To Lower Cholesterol
While these natural drinks are beneficial, one of the best ways to lower cholesterol naturally is to follow a healthy diet and an active lifestyle.
Other healthy tips include
- limit your order of takeout and delivery food
- include 7 eggs per week in your diet
- limit fatty, salty, and sugary food
- include oily fish up to two to three portions per week
- eat vegetables every day
Still, diet is the number one approach. Limiting saturated fats and trans fats (unhealthy fats) while increasing intake of monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats is a natural way to lower cholesterol and incorporate colorful fruit and vegetables. Food high in healthy fats includes margarine spreads and oils, oily fish, avocados, and particular nuts and seeds. Aerobic exercise is also beneficial as it enhances the benefits of a healthy diet and maintains good heart health.
Another easy way to lower cholesterol naturally is to replace cooking oil with olive oil. Olive oil is a staple in the Mediterranean diet, considered one of the world’s healthiest diets. Studies have shown that extra virgin olive oil decreased coronary heart disease measures in participants over a 6-week period.
What About Drinks To Avoid?
Now that you know what is best to drink, here are some of the drinks to avoid to maintain good cholesterol levels. Aim for drinks that are low in saturated fats and trans fats.
Drinks that are high in saturated fats are:
- coffee, tea, and drinks heavy on the cream, whipped cream, or creamer
- heavily coconut-based drinks (smoothies with coconut oil, etc.)
- ice-cream based drinks
It would be best if you also avoided sugary drinks since these can reduce your HDL cholesterol levels ( you do want this as these are the good cholesterol). Sugary drinks don’t just mean soda, they can include sports drinks, energy drinks, and store-bought fruit juices so choose wisely.
The Bottom Line
There are several alternatives to medication when it comes to lowering cholesterol. Natural healthy drinks are easy, convenient, and can still keep you strong. Also, bear in mind to complement these with an active lifestyle and proper diet.
While these natural healthy drinks to lower cholesterol can be beneficial, consult your doctor before making any changes, whether with your lifestyle or medication regime.